BATTERY 08/21/06


Telco Application Note
By: Rick Lawrence, Product Marketing

Internal ohmic measurements have become the most important parameter to date for determining the state of
health of batteries. Yes, load tests do find the actual capacity of batteries, but they are time-consuming,
expensive and are not at all worthwhile for smaller batteries, especially those used in distributed networks such
as wireless telecommunications systems. In these wireless networks, the typical battery system is a configuration
of short strings comprising two or four jars in parallel strings for redundancy and to add capacity. In some cases,
there are as many as 16 parallel strings.

Internal ohmic measurements use a calculation following Ohm’s Law, namely E=IR. In impedance, it is Z=E/I
while conductance is C=I/E and dc resistance is R=E/I. The differences between dc and ac internal ohmic
techniques are beyond the scope of this App Note. It is enough to say that all internal ohmic battery testers apply
a current and measure the resulting voltage drop. In order to calculate the internal ohmic value, it is necessary to
measure two of the three parameters, namely, voltage drop, E, and current, I. The voltage drop is caused by the
current flowing through the cell/jar from the instrument regardless of technique or manufacturer. All instruments
measure the voltage drop; it is the measurement of the current that is the problem when it comes to accurate
internal ohmic values of short strings in parallel configurations. As seen from Ohm’s Law, if the current is not
measured accurately, then inaccurate internal ohmic values will be obtained. Here is a schematic diagram of two-
jar strings in a four parallel string battery configuration.

For the purposes of this discussion, let’s make it easy to visualize by making all jars new and with an internal
resistance of 1 milliohm. Based on theory and supported by actual data, the current used by any tester will not
only flow into the battery being tested but also into the parallel path. If current is not measured then erroneous

without a CT.24A from 0. If the customer is using baseline conductance or dc resistance values as published by the manufacturer (on individual cells.5milliohms.5A and R. So ZAB = EAB / (iinstrument – iescape).26A from 0. The net current is the current that passes through cell AB and causes the voltage drop. the conductance. is 0. In this example.Cells Imp.. Now.19A in the parallel resistor.St rings Cond*.31A and is 0. Parallel Strings 25 20 15 Imp. but is likely that cells will test as good that are. “escape current”. is 1. not a failure as it truly is.6 milliohms. There is one other consideration for this problem and that has to do with battery manufacturers’ baseline values.66mS.) Returning to all of the math. There are four lines in the graph: Impedance of individual cells (in blue).19A in the Thevenin resistor. These are the two parallel paths of the applied current. This is a 28% improvement in the cell’s condition. since it is escaping the cell being measured.) . its reciprocal has been multiplied by 1000. (A 50% increase in impedance in a sealed battery is considered by many to be in falure mode and needs to be changed. using Thevenin’s theorem of reducing parallel resistors. (So that the conductance fits on the graph.307mV. Then. Then Resistor AB has a resistance of 1 milliohm and the Thevenin resistor. bad. the Vdrop.31A and up to 0. which should be 0.Cells Cond*. the new schematic becomes: with two parallel current paths. Individual Cells vs. the total resistance in the circuit. the applied current flows through cell AB and it also flows from test point A through the Thevenin resistor back to test point B.615milliohms. i. Because BITEs measure current. not connected cells). EAB. in fact.5 milliohms which corresponds to a 50% increase.e. However. Impedance of those same cells connected in short strings in parallel configurations commensurate with the schematic above. E. Megger has called the current in the parallel circuit. E calculates to 0. is I*R where I is 0. Rth. four strings of two cells each (in green) and Conductance measured those same configured strings (in red). the current in Cell AB is now down to 0. the impedance will be properly measured at 1. the recalculated voltage drop in the circuit is 0.BATTERY 08/21/06 results can easily be obtained. is measured at 1.St rings 10 5 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 The graph above illustrates this issue using actual battery data. it will take several years for the batteries’ conductance or dc resistance values as measured in this type of configuration to degrade back down to the baseline value.28mS. Therefore. When testing cell AB. There is only one voltage drop in this circuit from the perspective of the instrument at test points A and B.39mV. Now. the current in cell AB is 0. We have defined the resistance in Cell AB at 1 milliohm. Conductance of individual cells (in yellow). it will not only be possible. change the resistor value in Cell AB to 1. Its conductance is 1mS.

The only difference between them is the batteries’ “connectedness”. So by using instruments that measure the current. then the internal ohmic value will be calculated incorrectly. The reason that two impedance lines are well correlated is that the BITE® 3 impedance instrument measures current output by the instrument and the current that is escaping into the other strings. Thank you for your business and support Rick Lawrence Product Marketing . (and Megger is the only instrument manufacturer whose instruments measure current external to the instrument). Furthermore.BATTERY 08/21/06 The Imp-Cells (in blue) and Cond*-Cells (in yellow) lines are well correlated as expected since they are impedance and conductance as individual cells. by simply changing how the battery is connected. neither does any other manufacturer’s instrument. the internal ohmic value can change which does not allow for intelligent battery decisions. Only with accurate data can intelligent battery decisions be made. The main point to take away from this discussion is that the current output from the instrument or drawn from the battery by the instrument is NOT the same current that induces the voltage drop in the cell under test. The Cond*-Cells (in yellow) and Cond*-Strings (in red) lines are not at all correlated and they should be. These are the two impedance measurements as individual cells and as connected in short strings in parallel configurations. The Imp-Cells (in blue) and Imp-Strings (in green) lines are also well correlated. accurate internal ohmic measurements are obtained. All Megger BITE® instruments measure current simultaneously to voltage drop to calculate impedance accurately. providing the net current that is passing through the cell causing the voltage drop. If the current that actually induces the voltage drop is not accurately measured. The conductance instrument does not measure external current.